Friday, December 1, 2023

COVID bomb is ticking in Jamshedpur, safety remote in people’s grip

Mail News Service

Jamshedpur, April 10: The best efforts of the state government and district administration will not pay dividends until and unless people themselves realize that the second wave is already knocking down human wickets and it is high time to take a defensive stance to avoid further blows. The COVID time bomb has started ticking and the remote is in people’s hands who can either switch off the expected blast or be doomed.

The city market scenario makes saner elements shudder. True, many have realized the essentiality of wearing masks when venturing out of home and that is one miniscule sight of hope amidst a sea of sinking humanity. Markets are heavily crowded. Social distancing norms are flouted as man and machine scurry around to grab essentials even though it entails more than a risk of catching the corona bug. A look around the city market spots on Saturday showed folks crowding what looked like fairgrounds unmindful of the intimidating risks they were exposing themselves to. Perhaps, today’s especially enlarged crowds were the outcome of rumormongers spreading stories that there would be a lockdown on Sunday and all city markets would therefore remain closed. What else could this be rather than irresponsible behaviour on the part of some pranksters trying to aggravate the pandemic conditions? There has been no word on Sunday lockdown either from the government or the district administration. The press was full of telephonic queries and replying in the negative was an exercise in patience.

Reports of overloaded autorickshaws had appeared in these columns a couple of days earlier and the spectacle continued unabated in the city even on Saturday in spite of the fact that the city had recorded the highest tally of COVID infections on Friday. The terrorizing figure was 256 and Saturday’s report is yet to come in. Autorickshaw drivers are wont to skip DTO’s instructions and pack as many passengers as possible to make that extra buck jeopardizing their own and their passengers’ lives with such ‘tricks of trade.’ There is no insistence on masks to be worn by passengers let alone sanitizing provisions. But the blame also fits squarely on the shoulders of passengers. Why get into an autorickshaw that already is stacked with ‘canned’ men and women? Why sit alongside the driver which is prohibited? Why not wear a mask when stricture stipulates otherwise?

Following the Deputy Commissioner’s orders, JNAC, MMC and Jugsalai Municipality officials are spreading out in their command areas and conducting awareness drives, distributing masks, warning protocol breakers and sealing shops that are disobeying rules. Policemen and women are spending thankless hours under the scorching sun to ensure that safety norms are in place. But in spite of all their efforts, if people do not realize the looming threat of a second COVID wave, they will have none to blame but themselves. Taming animals is easier but taming the tamed is a different proposition altogether.

It is gratifying to see people’s rush at the vaccine centres, all eager to get the protective shot against the dreaded viral threat. But here too, social distancing norms have to be implemented to make matters double safe for people.

Be it grudgingly or willingly, for once, the city is witness to almost vacant roads with streetlamps standing as silent sentinels to guard human lives and their sense of rationality. The magic of the 8 pm to 6 am bandh hopefully will work if people cooperate. Police patrolling has been doubled up to ensure that the orders are obeyed. Hopefully, people will see the light of reason and make the ticking of the COVID time bomb a false alarm.

Hopefully, that is.

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